Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy 9-Month Birthday, Jack!

I love you my sweet Jack, and I am so very proud of you. You are a wonderful, wonderful little boy, and I cannot imagine my life without you in it. You fill our hearts with more joy than we could have ever imagined. I cannot wait to watch you grow up and enrich our family with your gentle soul and kind heart. You have taught me so much already about life, love, patience and perseverence in your nine months on this earth, and I know that I still have so much more to learn from you.
The world is certainly a better place with you in it, my dear.
Happy 9-Month Birthday, Jack!
We love you, love muffin!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Being a mother to a special needs child is not easy. And, as with any child, it can be just as full of moments of frustration as it is laden with joyful pride. Over the past few months, Jack has given us little reason to worry about his development. In fact, he often leaves some new people who meet him wondering if he has Down Syndrome at all. Jack is taking solid foods well (except for some veggies :), sitting up completely independently, playing with cause and effect toys, exchanging toys from one hand to another, showing preference for some toys over others, showing understanding of reciprocal play and object permanence, effectively communicating with us both vocally and through facial expression, and well ... he's just being his cute and adorable social self. He's been right on track (with even "typical" children) in terms of his development thus far ... well, almost. All that said, I have a confession to make ...

I'm getting really frustrated over the whole crawling (or lack thereof) thing. I just can't help it. When on his tummy, Jack will push himself all the way up so his arms are completely extended, and then he kicks his feet like he wants to move. We tuck his knees underneath him so that he's in crawling position, and he'll hold this position for a few seconds, sometimes even rock back and forth a little, but ... still no crawling. It's been like this for nearly two months now. Sometimes I feel like Jack will have a developmental "spurt" where he'll do a bunch of new things one week, and then just stay on that plateau for a couple months. Well, we're currently hangin' out on that plateau. (Not that we're not having fun on the plateau, but still ...) I guess this pattern is normal for any developing baby, and I usually can convince myself not to worry about it and tell myself that he WILL crawl ... when he's ready. But for some reason, this past week I have found myself more stressed over these things that I know in my heart are very minor in the grand scheme. I guess I'm just now, after nearly nine months, starting to see ... (dare I say it?) delays. I think it just feels so difficult because we work SO HARD every week on crawling, but it's still not happening yet. The only metaphor that comes to mind to describe my frustration is like studying relentlessly for an exam, certain you'll get an "A," only to receive a poor score in the end. ARGH!

I know what many of you are thinking: "Calm down, Jack will crawl when he's ready," or "Some children don't crawl at all, you know. Some just take off walking," or "Stop worrying. My child didn't crawl until he was a year old!" Thanks, everyone. All these comments are helpful indeed, but it's still tough. Helpful also are the comments of affirmation I get from the professionals in our life, like Jack's Physical Therapist Carrie and his new Developmental Therapist Annette. During every PT session, Carrie tells us that Jack is doing great and to just keep doing what we're doing. And, just today Annette told me that she wished she could clone me and take me to all her clients' homes so their parents would be as dedicated to their developmental success as I am to Jack's. (Thank you, Annette, for the much needed spirit boost today! It really meant a lot!)
"Little by little, one travels far." -JRR Tolkien
All these things help reaffirm the truth to me ... our little Jack IS doing very well, and WILL eventually crawl ... in his own time. Until then, I have many other things to be grateful for ... all the while I've been worrying (over nothing), Jack IS doing new things all the time, giving me the ultimate affirmation that everything is A-OKAY.
For instance:

Learning to hold his own "ba-ba"
Rockin' out on the drum (I swear, he's going to be a musician!)

Signing "more" (I think, or clapping ... either way :)

Trying to stand holding onto something (with much help, but still great nonetheless)
And then, there's also just those sweet little fleeting affirmations that keep my heart going:

Splish splash!

Sweet baby face

"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."
(Co Co Chanel)

Blowing razzberries, yet again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snackin' and a swingin'

Two weeks ago, I did something that might qualify me as crazy ... I just felt like we weren't busy enough (between my working part-time, physical therapy, developmental therapy, Mom and Baby Yoga, and music class) so I decided that Jack and I needed to join The Little Gym too! (For those of you who aren't familiar with The Little Gym, it's a lot like Gymboree class for little ones.) So, we've been in full swing these past couple of weeks going from one class to another, from one therapy to another. It's amazing how tough Jack is and how, despite being the busiest kid on the block (which I know exhausts him because I'm exhausted too), he always manages to keep on smiling:

And, during all our (uh-hum) spare time between classes and therapy, we have been working a lot on self-feeding:

All Jack seems to want to feed himself thus far is Veggie Sticks (who'da thought?!?! But, it's a great finger food!)

(This picture just makes me giggle ... that's a spinach veggie stick)

Veggie sticks are good, but nothing is as tasty as a ... GREAT BIG TOE SANDWICH!!!

We've also managed (with the weather being so fantastic ... love!) to get outside a little and enjoy our front yard swing:

Smiling even with the sun right in his face

You have my heart, little one ... forever

I think he saw the neighbor's dog here (who looks eerily just like our dog =)

So, needless to say, we've been busy, but it'll all in good measure and for worthy reasons. And, when the going gets tough and I feel like there just isn't enough time in the day to get it all done or it's one of those days during which I feel like a robot-controlled ping pong ball boucing from appointment to appointment, it just takes one look into Jack's sweet little smiling face to wipe it all away. Swish ...
"No more worries, no more fears, no more rushing around, Mommy ... for now, just live in this very moment with me."

(Done, done, done, and done.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Heart Day!

Mommy's little Valentine
What a happy heart looks like

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A morning run

This morning at 7am, while I was still soundly asleep in my bed here in Greensboro, my sister Kelly stood at a start line, stretching her runner's legs, about to run 13.1 miles in Birmingham, Alabama's Mercedes Half Marathon. She has run a few full marathons and several half marathons in the past, but this one was different.

She was running for a cause. She was running for something she believed in. She was running for love.

She was running for Jack.

The Mercedes Half Marathon was organized through the efforts of a father named Paul nearly fourteen years ago in honor of his little boy Matt, who has Down Syndrome. On the day that little Matt faced open heart surgery to repair a heart defect that is common to many children with Down Syndrome, his father Paul and his mother Cinna noticed a crowd of people flooding the streets of downtown Birmingham as they peered out the window of their UAB hospital room. It was the day of the Vulcan Marathon, and it was the day that Paul became a runner. He looked at his feeble little boy facing surgery and made him a promise, "You pull through this, Matt, and next year Daddy will run a marathon for you." Well, Matt pulled through, and so Paul did too, and he ran the marathon the following year and the next and the next. In the years since, this marathon has been named the Mercedes Marathon and the proceeds from it go to the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs for children like Matt, for children like Jack.

Hearing of the marathon from a friend (who also has a nephew with Down Syndrome), my sister Kelly, who is an avid runner, jumped at this opportunity to run for such a wonderful cause and dedicated herself to this mission only 3 weeks before the event. (Only my sister Kelly could actually run 13.1 miles without formally training for months in advance!)

So, today I'd like to dedicate this post to my wonderful sister Kelly who listens when I need a patient ear, who comforts me with her words when I need to cry, who worries with me when I need a pal, who encourages me and my son, who loves Jack as if he was her own, and who runs 13.1 miles at her fastest pace ever (under 2 hours!) and just after having recovered herself and her three kids from strep throat ... all for her nephew. I don't just have sisters, I tell you ... I have soul sisters. I feel so blessed to share such a closeness with both Kelly and Kasey.

I received a text this morning around 10:30am informing me that my sister had finished the half marathon, her brief but profound tribute to our dear Jack. Booming with pride, I just had to call her, and the excitement Kelly's voice was something that I'll never forget. She and I were both filled with emotion as she told me how wonderfully inspirational and motivational the event had been, and she mentioned that it was all the more wonderful due to the many smiling, cheerful faces of Down Syndrome that surrounded her as she ran. I simply could not hold back the tears as she told me that the run wasn't easy and there were some tough hills, but whenever she felt like quitting, she would picture Jack's smiling face and it would pull her through. She said that she realized that the hills were nothing compared to the challenges that Jack may face in his future and the challenges that I face as a mom of a special needs child, and this realization just made her run faster ... so fast that she broke her own personal record (13.1 miles in 1 hour 57 minutes ... incredible, just incredible!) Way to go, Kel! I am so very proud of you! (Man, I wish I could've been there! Maybe next year I'll even run too?!?!)

"Thank you, Aunt Kelly, for running so hard for me today! I love you and miss you so much!" Love, Jack

For my sisters,
God sent us to be sisters
So we can be best of friends
To be there for one another
Even when there is pain
I thank the Lord for sending my sisters to me
For whom I truly love and care
We shared so many things together
Like laughter and some scares
Having you as a sister
Means more to me, more than you'll ever know
I wouldn't trade you for anything
I will never let go
As our friendship continues to grow
So will my love for you
Just always remember you can talk to me
I'll be the best friend you ever know
-Angelica Machado

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Where did you come from?

Where did you come from Baby Dear?

Where did you come from baby dear?
Out of the everywhere, into the here.
Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky when I came through.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm, white rose?
Something better than anyone knows.

Where did you get that pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me and so I grew.

But how did you come to us Baby Dear?
God thought of you, and so I am here.
-by George MacDonald

Thank you, my dear baby Jack, for showing me why I am here.